Sunday, July 27, 2008

Keeping online backups with Syncplicity

For a while I've been wanting to write a set of articles discussing the programs and services for Windows users that I most highly recommend. There are a lot of interesting and compelling programs and services - more than any single person can keep up with. But out of this multitude, there are a limited number that I think everyone should seriously think about using. So I'm finally getting around to it. This is the first of those articles.

Here's the issue: your pc can be stolen, it can die, it can burn up in a fire, you can take a hammer and destroy it in frustration ;^) And unless you have backups of your important files, you are up the proverbial creek.

What's the most common response to this risk? Copy your files to a usb drive, write them to a CD/DVD, or write them to an external hard drive.

But there are two problems with this solution. One, you have to remember to do this (or actually do it when your backup program prompts you). And two, unless you store the backup somewhere other than where you live (e.g., a safe deposit box), a fire or theft leaves you up the same creek. Oh, and a third problem - this method is an ongoing pain to do.

So here's my strong recommendation: use Syncplicity to automatically keep up-to-date copies of your important files on Syncplicity's disk storage.

When you sign up with Syncplicity, you will be provided with 2GB of storage space. If you pay $10/month, or $100/year, you will be provided 40GB of storage space. And you can get another 50GB by paying another $10/month or $100/year.

And - most importantly for the purpose I'm discussing - Syncplicity makes available a software program you can use to automatically keep your important files up-to-date on Syncplicity's disk storage. Use it!

Syncplicity has a couple other nice features:
  • You can access your files from anywhere you have an Internet connection.
  • You can share any of your folders with other people.
  • You can keep files synchronized between multiple pc's. I have several files I want both at home and at work, and this service allows me to edit the files without worrying that they will get out of sync.
Now you may be concerned about security - can other people on the Internet (or, for that matter, Syncplicity employees) view these files? In the spectrum of reckless abandon to total paranoia, I tend to lean toward paranoia. Syncplicity states that your files are strongly encrypted on their servers. Even so, I encrypt my important files on my pc before I let Syncplicity at them. It adds an extra step with some of my files, but that's what I get for leaning toward the paranoid side of the spectrum. Note: I'll take about encryption utilities in a coming article.

Bottom line: until now, keeping backups of your important files has always been a painful process, so most people don't do it. Syncplicity makes this a no-brainer. Just do it!

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